How to format PC, all possible ways in Windows 10

Formatting the PC is, basically, erasing absolutely everything on its main storage medium, including the operating system itself. A task that can be used to sell it to someone else, to change the function of your hard drive or to  ‘start from scratch’ , for example, with a clean installation of the same or another operating system. As in previous versions, we can  format the PC in Windows 10 with specific Microsoft tools, in a simple way. We explain how in this  step-by-step tutorial , a guide with everything you need.

Steps prior to formatting the PC

Backup copy

When  formatting the PC, we are going to delete everything, absolutely everything that is stored in the device’s storage system. Therefore, we should consider whether there is any type of content in it that we may be interested in preserving. In that case we have two options:

We can make a  complete backup of our user profile on the computer, in such a way that we absolutely rescue everything that is part of that installation and, more specifically, of the user that we use on a regular basis. With this, later we could rescue not only the stored contents such as personal files, but we could also ‘reset’ the installation to recover it as we had it until that moment.

Another option is to rescue only and exclusively  important files manually. We can do it with an external storage unit – hard disk, memory card, USB pendrive … – that is adapted, by storage capacity, to the number of files – and their weight – that we are going to remove from the computer to keep in one place sure. And this option, obviously, we could modify it to use a  cloud storage instead of a physical storage.

With third-party applications, such as FBackup, we can also ensure a system  backup . Having installed the application, we will have to select the option that allows us to create a new backup and then we will be able to choose the destination – local, network or Google Drive- and, of course, the storage unit on which we want to make a security copy. Instead of a unit, we can select only certain files, folders or directories, and then we can configure if we want it to be encrypted and how often it should be done.


Drivers for critical components

Before formatting the computer you should check the make and model of your motherboard, and other components such as the graphics card. In this way you can access the manufacturer’s support website and, from there, download the  drivers for the hardware component in question. With this, you will avoid possible problems such as, for example, that Windows 10 is not able to install the Ethernet driver. With this driver we should already have access to the Internet as soon as we start the PC for the first time, then we can download the drivers that we may be missing directly from the computer that we have just formatted.

Windows 10 installation media

In the very possible case that after  formatting the PC with Windows 10 we are going to want to do a clean installation of the operating system, before carrying out the format we should prepare a  Windows 10 installation medium. This, in addition, although it is not essential it will be really useful in the process of formatting the computer. Therefore, it is recommended that we take a look at the guide in which we see how to download a Windows 10 ISO , where you will also see how you can prepare an operating system installation medium.

Other things we must save before formatting the PC

Formatting our computer implies that we are going to carry out a complete erasure of everything we have stored on the hard drive, both the system and personal files. In addition, we will have to reinstall those applications that we use daily, in which we may have certain settings or configurations that we want to recover later. All this we must take into account before formatting the PC, since later, everything that we have not saved will not be possible to recover it. These are some of the things to save before formatting our equipment:

  • Personal files (Office documents, photos, videos, etc.).
  • Installed applications .
  • Bookmarks or favorites and extensions of our browser .
  • Messages and contacts from our email if they are saved on our disk.

How to format Windows 10 PC, step by step

The  format of the PC can be done from the Windows 10 or OS itself from media installation. The simplest or most user-friendly way is to format the computer directly from Windows 10. However, we will explain the different possible ways.

With a USB, PC formatting

To format a PC from a USB pendrive, obviously we will need a USB memory as a means of installing Windows 10 – or another operating system- , but also modify the BIOS settings. In the BIOS of our computer is where we can select the  boot priority options ; by default the hard disk or the SSD will be the priority option, however, we have to  switch to USB . In this way, the Windows 10 installation medium will be the first thing to run, before the already installed operating system, and in this way we can use its options.

To get the computer to boot from the USB flash drive, and not from the hard drive, as we said, you have to modify the BIOS settings. This is something that depends on the motherboard that we have installed in our computer, so in the instruction manual or on the manufacturer’s website we should find the exact detail. In any case, to ‘open’ the BIOS. the most common is that we have to use the F2, F11 or F12 keys during startup, holding down one of them, or the Del key.

But if we have installed Windows 10 from before, we can also do the same thanks to UEFI. When restarting by holding down the Shift key, in ‘Troubleshooting’, in the Advanced options section, we can access the UEFI firmware settings so that, within the Start menu, the system gives us the possibility to select the installation unit that we created as the primary boot device.

When starting the computer from the USB pendrive, we will directly find the previous screen. In it, we are asked in which language we want to carry out the installation, the date and currency format and also the keyboard or input method. We will only have to click next and then ‘Install now’. Once this is done, it will ask us, if applicable, what version of the operating system we want to install and, then, it will give us the option to do a clean installation or to keep our personal files, in case there was already a previous installation of Windows 10 in the same computer.

The key point is in the next step, which is where all the storage units detected by the computer and their different partitions, if they exist, will be displayed. This is where, at the bottom, we will find the Format option  . If we want to have a completely clean hard drive, and there are partitions on it, the first thing we should do is select each of these partitions and then click on Delete. Once all the partitions have been eliminated, we would only have one storage unit and partition – as the same option-, and we would have to select it to later click on ‘Format’. Clicking on next, and continue with the guided process, is when the formatting will be carried out.

From Windows 10, reset PC

For this option, obviously, the computer has to be turned on and we will have to open the Settings menu . We find this menu by typing  ‘settings’  in the search box on the taskbar. From here we will access Update and security, then we will enter Recovery and then click on  ‘Start’ , in the  Restore this PC section.

Once we click on Start, the entire guided process will actually start. The first thing that will happen is that the system will ask us if we want to keep our files or remove everything. Why? Because  resetting Windows 10 is not really the same as formatting your computer. This option basically allows us to clean Windows 10 completely to start from scratch, but in this case we will not be formatting the hard drive to leave it empty. So we can decide if we want to start over, with Windows 10, with a completely clean installation or keeping our personal files, but deleting all the settings and all the installed apps.

If you can’t access Windows 10, but it’s installed

The Windows Recovery tool  can be accessed to format the computer, as long as Windows 10 is installed on it. And the easiest and fastest way is to access it from the operating system itself, with the computer on and having already loaded the desktop. However, if Windows 10 is already installed on the computer and we cannot access the operating system, there are alternatives to the path Configuration> Update and Security> Recovery> Advanced Options, which is what we would use in the usual circumstances, when the computer works correctly and the operating system as well.

In these cases, what we will do is turn off the computer if it is on. With it turned off, we will start up and let everything load up to the access screen. Once here, then we will have to click on the shutdown button and select the Restart option , but we will have to click on  it while keeping the  Shift key on our keyboard pressed at the same time. From here, we will find the Troubleshoot menu  , which is the one that gives us access to the Reset option, and then we can follow the procedure that we specified in one of the previous points.

Format hard drive from command prompt

Before talking about other third-party applications with which we can format our equipment, we cannot forget about the CMD or command prompt, a tool that Microsoft offers us and from which we can perform a formatting of our disk or any of the drives .

To do this, these are the steps we must follow:

  • We open a command prompt or CMD window . Run window and type CMD or do a search from the search box on the taskbar.
  • Once in front of the command line, we type diskpart and press Enter to activate the use of DISKPART.
  • The next thing will be to execute the list disk command , which will show us a list of the disks or units of the system.
  • We look for the one that corresponds to the one we want to format and select it through the command, select disk number . Where number we must replace it with the disk or unit that corresponds to the one we want to format.
  • Next we execute the clean command , which begins to clean all the files and folders on the selected disk.
  • Later we execute the command create partition primary .
  • Finally, we execute format fs = ntfs and wait for the process to finish.

Formatting with third-party apps

We can format the computer from Windows 10 itself, or with an installation medium that has the operating system and its assistant. But we also have other options, such as a LiveCD with GParted. This program weighs a little less than 200 MB; We will have to download it, but we will also need to download TuxBoot, which can be used from a Windows computer and also from Linux systems.

We will proceed by clicking ‘Pre-Downloaded’ in TuxBoot and selecting the .ISO file corresponding to GParted. Once this is done, in Type we will select USB Drive, and in Drive we will have to select the USB device that we are going to use and it is already connected to our computer, in case it is a USB pendrive. If it does not appear we will have to check the Show All Drives box, and after doing this we will have to click on ‘Ok’ for the installation to take place.

When we have this installation medium created, with GParted, we will have to boot from it instead of from the hard drive on which our operating system is installed. To do this, you can return to the section  ‘With a USB, formatting the PC’ , of this same tutorial, where we explain how to modify the BIOS settings or configure the UEFI boot so that the USB pendrive program runs in the first instance. When we have achieved it, we will have to select GParted Live (Default Settings) to configure the keyboard, and wait for the system to boot.

When starting we will find the interface of the previous screenshot. All the drives connected to the device are available there, as well as their corresponding partitions if they exist. Formatting a drive is as simple as selecting it, right-clicking on it, and clicking on the ‘Format as’ option and then choosing the file system that you want to be applied when formatting the storage drive.



We can also use EaseUS Partition Master, one of the best formatting programs out there right now. It stands out for having a simple interface in its operation and very intuitive, something that is excellent news, since we do not need great knowledge to work with this program. It can handle up to 32 units and it has some very interesting functions such as changing the size of a partition, concentrating partitions, recovering a previous partition, distributing the free space as we want or formatting the hard disk of our Windows computer.

It is a free application, but it has paid versions. The version for which we do not have to pay anything allows us to format, resize, convert or clone partitions with a maximum disk capacity of 8 TB. The professional version (54.95 euros) allows us everything in the free version but we also do not have maximum hard disk capacity, we can migrate OS to SSD or HDD, manage dynamic volumes and change the format of the partitions. then we have a Server version (240 euros) oriented towards servers and an Unlimited version (465 euros) which is ideal if we have a business that uses this type of software regularly.


Formatting secondary drives from Windows 10

The ones we have seen are the ways to  format a computer ; that is, to format the hard disk that is used as the main one in a PC, and in which there is already installed – or not –  an operating system previously. However, we may also need to  format a secondary drive connected to the computer. And by secondary drive we can understand another hard drive, a solid state drive – SSD-,  a pendrive or a memory card among many others. This is something that we can do in Windows 10, and in a simple way, from the Disk Management tool  and also from the system’s File Explorer itself.

Format a secondary hard drive (or SSD)

For this task we will use the Disk Management tool. We can find it using the search box on the taskbar, typing its name and clicking on the first option that appears. We will see, when we open it, a new window similar to the previous screenshot. In it we see the volumes, which correspond to the storage units and their partitions. To apply the formatting on a unit, we would simply have to select it and, in the upper part, click on the icon with the shape of a red ‘X’ to  Delete.

This type of modification that we can carry out, such as formatting a complete storage unit or deleting a partition to ‘redistribute’ the storage space, will be applied automatically when we restart the computer. In other words, we can apply any changes we want to the system units here, but they will not take effect until the next time the computer is restarted.

Format a USB pendrive, memory card …

In this case, the tool we are interested in is the operating system’s own File Explorer. We will open it from the Windows 10 taskbar itself, and once in it we will have to search for ‘This Computer’ in the left side navigation bar. From there, then we will see the ‘Devices and drives’ menu with all the storage media that are physically connected to the computer. This is where our pendrive or memory card will be – among others – and, to format this device, we will simply have to right click and click on the ‘Format’ option.

Here the details of the drive will be displayed with its storage capacity, file system, allocation unit size and also the ‘volume label’ which is actually the name by which we want Windows 10 to recognize this storage unit. Afterwards, we can select, or not, the option ‘Quick format’ and we only have to click on Start to carry out the typical formatting process on said storage unit.

Low level formatting

The  formatting that is usually applied is a  ‘quick format’ . In this type of formatting, deleted files can be recovered , because information is not written back to where there used to be files – those that are deleted in the format – but the system is simply given ‘authorization’ to use that storage space storage. When low-level formatting is applied, however, in the space left empty, random information is rewritten to prevent a user from retrieving information that was previously stored there later.

For this task we can use third-party applications, such as DBAN or HDD Low Level Format. We will take the HDD Low Level Format application as an example, although the operation of both tools is almost identical:

When we open HDD Low Level Format we will find a menu in which all the connected storage units are reflected, from hard drives to memory cards and USB pen drives. To apply a low-level formatting on any of these, we would have to select the one that interests us and click on the ‘Continue’ option. Once this is done, additional information about the unit will be displayed and, in a second tab, we can see  ‘Low Level Format’ , which is where we want to scroll to select the option  ‘Format this device’. Obviously, we should not check the  ‘Perform quick wipe’ box , because then a conventional quick format will be applied.



What to do after formatting a PC?

Once we have formatted the PC, obviously we will have a ‘virgin’ computer  . The only thing that really changes is that earlier on the hard drive you had installed an operating system, and files, and now that hard drive will be clean. Therefore, it all depends on what use we want to give to the hard disk that has just been completely free. The most common is that it is used for a new installation, in which case we will be interested in knowing  how to install Windows 10 ,  step by step, to have a clean installation.

And in case we are going to do a clean installation of the operating system, we should know that it will be of little use once we start the computer for the first time. Finding ourselves in this situation, what is best for us is to review the 10 essential programs of Windows 10, the first that we should install when, indeed, we start the computer for the first time after having formatted the PC with Windows 10.

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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